SMART Tiles: Novel Application of Shape Memory Polymers for Adaptive Building Envelopes

Aug 31, 2018

The SMART Tile project is an experimental study in kinetic building shading systems made ‘dynamic’ or ‘smart’ materials. Our team has designed a series of self-shading building tiles that apply the attributes of a class of polymers with shape memory characteristics. The smart material, adaptive, and reconfigurable tiles (SMART Tiles) are designed to wrinkle and reposition themselves in response to incoming solar radiation to shade building surfaces and lower thermal transmission to the building interior. Tiles are intended for building retrofits for buildings in hot climates. The workflow and design process of constructing physical models are discussed, including casting, shape programming, and tile prototyping. Stepping into the emergent field of building self-regulation with programmable matter, this project is part of the shift towards a built environment that adapts to subtle environmental fluctuations of temperature, light, humidity, and pressure via material properties. Equally important to the team is that the dynamic aspects of the SMART Tiles appeal to the imagination and viscerally (re)connect a building occupant to the environment.

Keywords: dynamic materials, shape memory, adaptive façade, biomimicry

Dale Clifford (California Polytechnic State University)
Kelle Brooks (California Polytechnic State University)
Robert Zupan (University of Pittsburgh)
Dr. John Brigham (Durham University)
Dr. Richard Beblo (University of Dayton)
Mark Whittock (California Polytechnic State University)
Nick Davis (California Polytechnic State University)
Kay Bromley (California Polytechnic State University)
Jen Mahen (California Polytechnic State University)
Craig Kimball (California Polytechnic State University)
John Kim (California Polytechnic State University)
Published & professionally reviewed by: 
The American Institute of Architects (AIA)

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